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fourth finger
play without using 4th finger?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (13 votes) 
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LinDee
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March 20, 2022 - 3:34 am
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Is it possible to become a reasonably accomplished violinist without using your 4th finger on the G and D strings?  This is a serious question, honstly.  I am cursed with stubby fat fingers and that's a fact.  Now, I know the pinky needs extra work to become flexible and strong enough to do its part - but no matter how I move/twist my arm/shoulder/wrist/fingers, I CANNOT put my pinky on those 2 strings.  I can on the E and its going to take work, but should be able to accomplish the A string.

Just wondering how limiting a factor this will prove out to be in the long run...  

My musings on a late night, after practice...

LinDee

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ELCBK
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March 20, 2022 - 4:49 am
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@LinDee -

Yeah, it's torture. 😖

Don't know of a single person who hasn't struggled with this - you aren't alone. 

Elbow has to swing WAY under the violin body & you can change the position and/or tilt of your violin to help. 

You can see, just how far the elbow goes, really well in this Fiddlerman 'Vibrato' video: 

Violin Exercises without playing - Quiet practice (Fiddlerman)

Here's one of the more recent threads:

Playing The Violin - 4th Finger Thread

 

https://images-wixmp-ed30a86b8c4ca887773594c2.wixmp.com/f/c63639a9-f172-4ade-b9e6-4df2abdabc97/d22la6y-017811f3-6cf5-4180-b47b-ab0f40fa6bba.jpg/v1/fill/w_600,h_464,q_75,strp/knot_balled_elastigirl_by_arnie00.jpg?token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJpc3MiOiJ1cm46YXBwOjdlMGQxODg5ODIyNjQzNzNhNWYwZDQxNWVhMGQyNmUwIiwic3ViIjoidXJuOmFwcDo3ZTBkMTg4OTgyMjY0MzczYTVmMGQ0MTVlYTBkMjZlMCIsImF1ZCI6WyJ1cm46c2VydmljZTppbWFnZS5vcGVyYXRpb25zIl0sIm9iaiI6W1t7InBhdGgiOiIvZi9jNjM2MzlhOS1mMTcyLTRhZGUtYjllNi00ZGYyYWJkYWJjOTcvZDIybGE2eS0wMTc4MTFmMy02Y2Y1LTQxODAtYjQ3Yi1hYjBmNDBmYTZiYmEuanBnIiwid2lkdGgiOiI8PTYwMCIsImhlaWdodCI6Ijw9NDY0In1dXX0.XUIFSdDqSoV7y7dKgoV4eRZ7XjWW9c8mGAUB61E_koo

 

You CAN do it! 😊  

...after you become 'Elastigirl', try this one. (lol) 

- Emily

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stringy
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March 20, 2022 - 7:33 am
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No denying if you dont use your fourth finger it will be a lot harder, but the fact is that even though you think now that you cant use it you will find the more that you practice the easier it will become, most people who have never played a string instrument struggle with the fourth finger. There are many stretches and exercises that can be done to build strength and flexibility. Being able to use the fourth finger is one of the benefits of having played guitar, but like anything else on fiddle it really does just take practice.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Mark
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March 20, 2022 - 8:11 am
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LinDee,

Wether you can reach with you 4th finger or not, don't get discouraged, there are examples of people reaching a high level of proficiency like guitarist Django Rhinehart. Just have fun.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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stringy
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March 20, 2022 - 8:59 am
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Do you know that there are smaller fiddles, for the smaller person, they are not, as commonly believed childs instruments, the were called ladies violins and were usually 7 / 8s size, these also have the advantage that you can pick them up cheaper than 4 / 4 size, there are charts on the net that tell you what size violin you need, depending on arm length.

Mark I am not telling her to get discouraged, I am telling her she can and will succeed. It takes practice.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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wtw
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March 20, 2022 - 10:17 am
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Agree with all of the above. It's totally normal to struggle with this. Give yourself some time too, playing the violin is quite 'unnatural' (arm position, muscles involved, etc).

It will probably get better just with time. Yes there are exercises for 4th finger strength, but don't force it (you don't want to get lasting pain) – and try not to obsess on it too. It's just fine for now if you use open strings instead. You can enjoy the instrument, and get better on lots of other stuff (bow control, rhythm, musicality, trying different genres, …). Gotta be patient with the violin.

---------------

Maybe check your left wrist position too. Bringing your elbow far under the violin helps, but your wrist too needs to be turned so that your fingers are above the fingerboard. Your left palm is not facing you, but facing left. Not sure if I'm clear here. 

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ELCBK
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March 20, 2022 - 10:31 am
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I totally agree - you don't need it when starting out. 

BUT, when I got into my 2nd year of playing, I realized how much better off I would've been IF I HAD worked more on my 4th finger.  

It took a LONG time (slowly) for me to get decent strength to control a good clear note - and you will want to be able to use it for ornaments, if nothing else.  So, I believe the sooner you can start, the better. 😊

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RDP
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March 20, 2022 - 2:39 pm
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When I started I couldn't use my 4th finger because I'm very stiff jointed and couldn't rotate my wrist far enough to get my 4th finger where it needed to be.  Heck, I couldn't even use my 3rd finger on the G string at the time.  Eventually I had to take a short break to deal with the arm and hand pain I was causing myself by forcing it. 

It totally sucked.  While I was recovering I made some setup changes and waited until the pain went away before restarting.

Fast forward to today - watch the 2 videos I just posted to see how much reach I have on my 4th finger now.  It's only been 5 months since I began to learn how to do this but I don't even think about not using it.

Practice, like everything, makes it easier.  Learning to play a violin is very difficult, even more difficult that you thought it would be.  Especially in the beginning because you absolutely know that you can play it but the blasted thing isn't cooperating like it should!  This is normal and about all I can say is that if you follow your music program by the numbers, you'll get there.

There is no rush and no timetable with a deadline looming.

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SharonC
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March 20, 2022 - 4:57 pm
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@LinDee Your fourth finger will come along for you.  My teacher is of small stature (and an accomplished violinist), and has a very small pinky.  When she puts her hand up against mine (I have an average size women’s hand), her pinky only comes up to just over the top finger joint of my pinky. I thought it was some kind of magic that she could play with it.  

Itzhak Perlman, world renowned violinist, is often described as having “sausage fingers”.  Everyone’s body is different—everyone adjusts.  It will just take time.

Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

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LinDee
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March 20, 2022 - 6:24 pm
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@EVERYONE!  Just want to say how helpful I found ALL of your responses!  Everyone of them encouraged me.  I "five-starred" every one of them!  You guys are great and I appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my different questions.

@ELBCK - thanks for the links, both very helpful, thats a great one from Fiddlerman for exercises.

Just had a great practice session - so nice when you actually recognize some improvement (though, yes, I know its one step forward and 2 steps back so often, LOL, but for this moment it was VERY satisfying!!!).

LinDee

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stringy
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March 20, 2022 - 7:20 pm
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The best thing for improvement is determination. Keep at it, keep practicing, keep enjoying, laugh at failures and be happy when  you get something right, you are learning the most difficult instrument in the world,(not forgetting viola). 

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Bob
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March 20, 2022 - 8:44 pm
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One variable that you might  try is the "tilt" of the violin. To be able to play higher positions on the G and D strings I found if I adjusted my shoulder rest so that the front edge of the violin slanted down more I was able to reach these after a bit of practice.

Tilting the front of the violin down alleviates the need to push the elbow so far to the front when playing on the G and D. Actually it helped me with higher positions on the A and E also.

Keep at it and good luck.

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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Fiddlerman
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March 21, 2022 - 2:16 pm
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@LinDee - Accomplished is a relative and subjection term.
You can sound great and never use your fourth finger on the G and D.

You'll be slightly limited on a few occasions but there are no notes that cannot be played.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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